Volume 9, Number 47, 2006

By Eleanor Long

The uncanny part of this affair was he knew exactly where he had put it. After using it, care was taken to hook the secured ring onto a bottom loop of this coat rack. Among the half dozen hooks in a row attached to the board, search after search beneath shirts, coats, caps and scarfs, he could not find it. What a mystery this is! No one else was in this house to ever need it. That woman would put the thing right back where she got it, if the blasted thing had been used. Of this he was most certain. Because many years of being reminded to bring things right back to where they belonged, she would DO just that.

Maybe around a month ago he had to make use of it. No way would it not get put back in its proper place on the first coat hook under his seldom used extra coat. Could be it got put away upstairs someplace? He’d just have to check that out.

Muttering to himself all the way down a darkened hall he slowly placed one foot next to the other on each step going upstairs. It had been a while since he had been up here. No need anymore since their bedroom had replaced the spare one downstairs. The old girl had insisted on this a few years ago when their last boy had left home. No more overnighters had been expected then. Glancing at the three rooms with closed doors he momentarily wondered why he was standing here on the landing. Oh, now he remembered coming all the way up here to look for it. Which room should he go into first? Better not go into any of them. If the missus happened to come across him standing here, he would be bound to have to answer a lot of her silly questions. He dare not say why he came up here. He would not have any acceptable answers. With slouched shoulders he turned, amazed at being where he was anyhow. Foot beside foot he managed to get down to the coat rack without being caught.

Pockets! Why had he not thought to rummage through them? Sure as shootin’ it could be shoved into one. His left hand held open a flap covering his coat pocket. Stiff fingers felt from side to side and even went so far as to squeeze the soft silk lining. It simply was not there. Pulling the coat towards him he reached into an empty pocket with his right hand. Edging along the bottom he could not feel anything. Moving onto the next hook where his soiled everyday coveralls hung, he began a four pocket search. First off he pinched the pockets from outside. Over and over he asked himself where that darned thing could be. It had been such a long time ago, maybe the day before yesterday that he had lost anything. What was the matter with him to-day? He checked himself out and found both shoe laces tied, his fly was fastened all the way up and shirt buttons were all done nice and neat. Why could he not remember about that dashed thing? Finally after all his pockets and hooks were checked so many times he kept on muttering to himself, whatever did I do with it? Over and over again the same thinking-out-loud sentence could be heard. He was beginning to loose patience with himself. Noon dinnertime was soon going to be yelled out for him. He just had to find it before then. Only about fifteen minutes were left. The blasted thing had to be here someplace. But where? Had he not checked every nook and cranny underneath these clothes hooks? He would give his usual well worn denim smock one last good searching.

Lifting it from the coat hook he recalled that this was the one he had worn the last time he needed a coat. He had completely forgotten about the secret small inside pocket. Stiffening fingers felt the cold shape of a big skeleton key. He could hardly believe he had not lost it after all.

This was the one and only key to a secure big padlock on the outside entrance door of his and her house. No need to tell her about the key being lost as it really hadn’t been lost at all. It was only misplaced.

“Misplaced” is actually part truth and part fiction. In his home my grandfather had misplaced his key, himself not knowing I had overheard his lone conversation when I was six years old.